Monday, May 26, 2014

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism.

Ephesians 4:1  I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3  making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5  one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6  one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. 7  But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8  Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people." 9  (When it says, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10  He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11  The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13  until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14  We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15  But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.

Written 60 years after Jesus, this letter encourages new Greek disciples in Ephesus[1]. Paul insists that they are an integral part of the body of Christ, because there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism”   into one body through the one Spirit.  Forty years later John’s Gospel will repeat this in its insistence that Jesus prayed for his disciples “that they may be one, as we are one”.[2]   The undeniable fact is that Jesus, and the followers of Jesus, believed that Christianity was a faith that called people out of our human divisions into a new community: In this all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

The invitation of our faith is to ask the Holy Spirit to overcome the divisions of culture, class, education gender and sexual orientation and draw us into a new community of Jesus-followers.

All praise to our redeeming Lord,
Who joins us by His grace;
And bids us, each to each restored,
Together seek His face.

Words: Charles WesleyHymns for Those That Seek and Those That Have Redemption in the Blood of Jesus Christ, 1747.

Seventh  Sunday of Easter
Life Together
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 178.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

[1] an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia
[2] John 17:11

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